Salva Kiir’s Destruction of South Sudan through Tribal Federalism

Posted: January 17, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Dr. Costello Garang Ring, Berlin, Germany


Dr. Costello Garang Riiny

Dr. Costello Garang Riiny

January 17, 2017 (SSB) —- If President Kiir and his advisers would really understand the background of a federal system and how it really functions, they wouldn’t continue creating additional states, but rather go back to the old ten states.

The Republic of South Sudan is currently at the brink of a total economic collapse, if it is not already engulfed by it. It really makes no sense to create additional states in a bankrupt country. This is beside the Presidential Decrees of the 14th of January being against the ARCSS and the constitution.

Federalism is not a modern form of tribalism. Citizens of different tribes could be citizens of the same state and are to be treated equally. The constitution of a state shouldn’t contradict the Basic Law of the whole nation. An Anyuak could be Governor of ABIEM, if he leaves and works there. A NUER could run Twic. What is possible at national level should also be at state level.

Federalism is not meant to enhance division in a divided nation at war with itself. It is not applied as a central unconstitutional solution to national constitutional conflicts. It serves national consensus and strengthen good administration at a local level. It is also not meant to marginalise specific ethnic groups from power sharing at national level.

States are to generate enough funds to finance their social, political and cultural activities with the federal government injecting in federal funds for developmental and security purposes, where and when this is constitutionally defined and necessary. There are federal institutions like the FBI in the USA or BKA in Germany, which are funded by the Centre. The normal local police is funded by its state

In South Sudan none of the 10 actual states was able to fund its police leave alone the state parliament and government. The old Central Equatoria and the oil producing Unity and Upper Nile could have done that, if we would have had a true and serious federal structure and not a corrupt instrument for the creation of positions and generating of salaries for incompetent and corrupt administrators hailing from the SPLM/A.

Kiir’s current federalism is not for development and no longer for the generation of fat salaries for the SPLM/A cadres, because the oil production and oil prices have gone down. It is just HEROIN for power hungry dreamers, hoping to get easily rich. Soon they will discover that they have been deceived and that the time of easy money to embezzle had passéd.

The extremely rich Federal Republic of Germany has a population of 82 million inhabitants and only 16 states that are able to fund their regional activities. States like Bavaria and Baden Wuertemberg have different German tribes in one State. It could have been easy to give each tribe its own, if Federalism was meant to be some kind of cheap modern tribalism.

There are also none German ethnic groups in Germany. I don’t mean the immigrants like the Turks and currently the Syrians. In the northern German State of SCHLESWIG HOLSTEIN with the capital KIEL, there is the Danish and the Friesian Minority of Friesland.

The Sorbes, who are of Slavic Origin and therefore none Germans are in the States of BRANDENBURG and SACHSEN. They have no states of their own. They enjoy all their rights here including teaching their language and having their cultural activities.

Switzerland has four languages, German, French, Italian and Romanic. German Speakers are about 60% of the population yet other languages are recognised. From the 26 Cantons of Switzerland 4 are multilingual. BERN, FREIBURG and WALLIS speak German and French. GRAUBUENDEN speaks German, Italian and Romanic. These tribes or ethnic groups are all Swiss and could stay in one State. The system has been working for the last 170 years. It functions because of tolerance and the recognition of another.

This is the message President Kiir should preach to our people instead of endlessly creating new states as a solution for what are mistakenly perceived as tribal conflicts. Federalism is not modern tribalism or tribal administration.

Otherwise we would end up having more than 60 states for our different tribes. Our federalism would then surely fail. It would be unfundable.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

  1. Acuil M Banggol says:

    Dear Dr. Costello,

    Greetings and thanks for correctly noticing and acknowledging the different types of federation and federalism in Germany and Switzerland amongst others.

    Your problem is that you seems to have tendency to cut-paste. Please look into our reality with objectivity.

    What you demonizes as Tribal Federalism is our reality but these are not tribe. They are nationalities. But let me give you SPLM view on federalism:

    Historically, culturally, administratively and demographically, South Sudan federation is perceived within the values, norms, beliefs and mutual collaboration of Greater Regions, Greater States, Greater Counties, Greater Communities, Greater Extended families and homelands of 72 Peoples and elders; each with distinct culture and a living language noticeable in thousands of Traditional Communal Federal Systems (TCFS) known as chiefdoms of several ethnicities or communities or kingdoms of a People or a nationality.In Dinka we call it WUD.

    A TCFS is headed by elected or selected spiritual or secular Traditional Authority Leader (TAL).
    Recognized by the Constitution; a TCFS in accordance to Customary Laws, is mutually identified with mutually recognized territorial integrity with natural resources of water points, forestry, hunting, grazing land, farming land and places of worship and burial, Peoples, Communal ethno-cultural, political and economic coping mechanism identified with beliefs, norms, values, morals, spiritual, judicial and administrative jurisdictions whose sovereignty is explicitly recognized by article 2, 33, 36(4) and 166(6)(c) and (i) of SSTC 2011 and ACRISS 2015 V article 1.1 on Supremacy of Peoples of South Sudan and 1.2 to initiate [articulate] federation.

    The Agreement on Conflict Resolution in South Sudan (ACRISS) 2015 Chapter V:1.2: Mandate all levels of Transitional Government of Transitional Unity to: Initiate [Articulate] a Federal and democratic system of government that reflects the character of South Sudan in its various institutions taken together, guarantees good governance, constitutionalism, rule of law, human rights, gender equity and affirmative action.

    Article 166(6)(i) of SSTC 2011: Acknowledge and incorporate the role of Traditional Authority and customary law in the local government system.

    Article 33 of SSTC Rights of Ethnic and Cultural Communities: Ethnic and cultural communities shall have the right to freely enjoy and develop their particular cultures. Members of such communities shall have the right to practice their beliefs, use their languages, observe their religions and raise their children within the context of their respective cultures and customs in accordance with this Constitution and the law.

    TGoUN Political Objectives : Article 36(2)(c) of SSTC 2011: Inculcate in the people a culture of peace, unity [in diversity], cooperation, understanding, tolerance and respect for customs, traditions and beliefs of each other;

    Article 36(4) of SSTC 2011: The composition of governments shall take into account ethnic, regional and social diversity in order to promote national unity and command national loyalty.

    Democracy and Governance in accordance to SPLM Manifesto

    Section IV.10: Decentralization system of governance that would bring power closer to the Peoples, and is characterized by popular participation, transparency, accountability, responsiveness, consensus-seeking orientation, effectiveness and abidance by the rule of law, so that the Peoples of [South] Sudan are provided with necessary conducive environment for accelerated socio-economic development ad increased happiness.

    Section IV.11: This system of governance will be premised on
    (a) restructuring of the power of the central government in a manner that would take into account the interests of all the [South] Sudanese, especially those of marginalized regions, [small population nationalities], and impoverished socio-economic groups, and
    (b) a decentralized power structure redefining the relation between [Capital] and the regions [states] with a view to devolving more federal powers to the regions [states] and, where and when necessary, full autonomy.

    Thanks for correctly mentioning that a federal state should be able to finance itself. Your state is very rich. The challenge is your contribution is missing. Citizens of a federal state should produce, trade and create wealth to be able to pay taxes, insurance and health levies.

    Let is engage in eradicating vulnerability of lack of production. We shall be richer than Germany and others.

    I am happy with my Twic State. I shall make sure we produce and trade to create the needed wealth.

    Try to bring technology to Ayat and to us the neighbor. Ask yourself of the level of your contribution to your state and South Sudan. South Sudanese are disadvantaged but not poor. Each of our wud is only missing a United Nations recognition as a sovereign. There is no wud in Dinka that is a subsidiary of another wud. We are united in diversity.

    Why Unity in Diversity

    SPLM principle and aims in accordance to SPLM Constitution 2008 states the following:
    Article 5.8: Committed to justice and equality for all irrespective of [nationality], religion, social status or gender.

    Article 5.10: Committed to respect of diversity of [South] Sudanese cultural heritage, values and beliefs.
    Article 6.18: Aimed at ensure justice and equity for all irrespective of [nationality], religion, social status and gender

    Article 6:20: Aimed to encourage and promote respect for diversity of [South] Sudanese cultural heritage and beliefs.

    Acuil Malith


    • Costello Garang Ring Lual says:

      Dear Acuil Malith Banggol
      as a friend I know for a long time and during the time of our struggle I need really not mention to you my humble contribution to the liberation of our country. Starting from being the second eldest representative of the SPLM/A after Benjamin Bol who was murdered in cold blood to the formation of NilePet together with Riek Machar and Kuol Manyang after being authorized to do so by Dr. John Garang to bringing Huawei to South Sudan and handing it over to Gerchuong to form Gemtel as ordered by Dr. John Garang.
      Most of the points you have mentioned are theoretically valid but are not found implemented anywhere.
      South Sudan is not a „One Party State“ and is not intended to be, so I would rather therefore refer to the constitution of the Republic instead of that of our political party. I was representing the whole nation in my activities and not the chiefdom of my father, Paramount Chief Riiny Lual Dau, or the Malual Dinka or my state of Northern Bahr El Ghazal. This is exactly what my article reflects. You are confirming what I called „tribal Federalism“. We could also call it „Wut- Federalism“ if you prefer it to be termed so. The problem, my brother, is that this is a truly Dinka terminology. I doubt that many other tribes in South Sudan have this idea of „wut“. My fear is that if we were to follow „wut-federalism“ on all levels and by all tribes , we might end up having 200 states. The SPLM/A wanted to bring towns to the people and not the people to the towns. Dr. John Garang meant bringing services to the people, so as to remain in their areas and not go to live in slums in the towns. He also didn´t mean bringing salaries to the party cadres by creating endless states that cannot serve the people. As an economist, Dr. John would have been the first to reject such impotent states as I explained in the example of Germany. My main point has been the ability of a state to fund its own activities and not merely to respect the character of a wut as a wut.
      The 32 states don´t even reflect the numbers and the characters of the WUOT you are talking about.
      Astonishingly we shouldn´t have waited for internal conflicts and for the state to get bankrupt before raising the number of the states from 10 to 28 and from 28 to 32.
      The ideology of wut was already present before that.
      Let us wait for the coming generations for South Sudan to be much richer than Germany or Switzerland so as tob e able to fund their states. If necessary, they will create more states in peace and prosperity.
      I´m not principally against creation of new states if they carry the burden of financing themselves.


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